Raptors Report: Another clutch loss to Jazz, lottery and playoff odds, Malachi Flynn’s play and more

Title: Raptors Report: Another clutch loss to Jazz, lottery and playoff odds, Malachi Flynn’s play and more
Date: May 1, 2021
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about another close Raptors loss to the Jazz, with some notebook-style points on playoff and lottery odds, and more.

If there is a defining image of the 2020-21 Toronto Raptors season, it may have come late Saturday night in Utah, hands on knees around the roster. At the site of their last “real” game before the NBA shut down, relaunched in a bubble and then continued with the Raptors in Tampa, the weight of it all was worn as obviously as the black chevron on the chest of the team’s jersey.

The deficit was only five points, at least in nominal terms. With 56 seconds to go, the Raptors had a chance. They’d turned in three very good offensive quarters and taken advantage of the absences of Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell as well as they could while short-handed themselves. The tank was running low, though — the starting five Nick Nurse rolled with had played nearly 16 minutes together in the second half alone. Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam received less than three minutes of time on the bench because of the struggles of bench-heavy units without Chris Boucher, Gary Trent Jr., Paul Watson Jr. and Malachi Flynn, who was starting for the resting Kyle Lowry.

The toll was clear in the shooting numbers. A 4-of-21 mark to that point in the fourth despite some decent process at times. Sure, there was a bit too much one-on-one play once Utah really locked in on defence, where their help coverage is elite at making the paint difficult to navigate. Midrange pull-ups and low-elbow push-shots started catching front rim. Three-pointers, both open and contested, misfired. The assists that flowed for three quarters weren’t producing baskets, but in a change, of course, the defence kept them around.

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